Jobs warning over Tasmanian Government logging plan, as Labor flags no vote

In March 6, 2017

The plan to reopen land for logging to stimulate the Tasmanian timber products industry could backfire and cost jobs, an independent Upper House MP says.

The Government will table legislation to allow 356,000 hectares of previously reserved forest to be logged starting next year, ahead of the 2020 moratorium date.

The areas were protected under the now defunct forest peace deal, and were re-classed “Future Potential Production Forests” by the Liberals.

Ruth Forrest, the Member for Murchison in the state’s north-west, said the feedback she had received had not been positive.

“What I’ve heard unequivocally from major timber employers is that they don’t need the timber and that they don’t want it opened up because of fears it will create a ruckus in the forest again.

“Their markets and their customers may steer away from their product because of that.”

The plan has so-far garnered little support, with a potential major customer James Neville-Smith stating he would not buy the wood unless it was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Industry groups are worried that without certification there could again be a return to the so-called “forest wars” animosity between pro-logging interests and environmentalists which ran for decades in Tasmania.

Ms Forrest said she was worried about the impact on communities in her electorate.

“In my view there are jobs at risk. If we lose jobs from employers it would decimate that community,” she said.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the move would help the struggling industry.

“We need resource security and job security. Our legislation requires the timber to be certified,” he said.

We will oppose it, Labor says

Until yesterday Labor had refused to say if it would support the Government bill to recommence logging when it reached Parliament in March.

But Labor leader Bryan Green has said the party would now oppose, in line with industry sentiment.

“We would be voting against the legislation based on the industry position. As it stands at the moment the industry do not see merit in the proposal and we are struggling to see merit in the proposal,” he said.

The Liberal Government will use its number to pass the bill through the Lower House. It faces a more uncertain future when it reaches the independent-dominated Upper House.

Jobs warning over Tasmanian Government logging plan, as Labor flags no vote by Richard Baines.  Available from <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-28/ruth-forrest-jobs-warning-logging-plan-bryan-green-no-vote/8308472> [Updated ]

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